By Ed Brock
A 23-year veteran officer with Clayton County Animal Control has been charged with animal cruelty.
Allen Densley, 50, of Stockbridge, has also been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the incident that occurred Thursday afternoon, said Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner. The investigation is expected to be finished today.
Around 4:30 p.m. Thursday Clayton County Humane Society Vice President Robin Rawls was in the Animal Control shelter to pick up some cats when she heard a dog howling.
"Upon investigating where the howling was coming from she observed (Densley) beating a pit bull with a catch pole," Turner said.
A catch pole is a pole with a lasso on one end used to capture an animal while keeping it at a distance.
Rawls said she heard what she thought was a dogfight and was going to break it up. As she entered the kennel area she saw Densley in the doorway of a nearby kennel.
"He would step in to hit and then step back," Rawls said. "He was in and out."
She stepped to the side to look into the kennels and recognized the dog as one she had petted the day before and knew to be a non-aggressive dog.
"When I realized that it was that really sweet dog he was beating I asked him what he was doing," Rawls said. "He turned around and said ?I'm moving the dog,' then he closed the kennel door and walked away."
When she approached the dog she saw that it was hunched against a wall and moving toward the back of the kennel. Rawls said she never saw the dog come toward Densley and that Densley had several opportunities to get away from the dog.
"The question I kept asking myself was why was he even doing anything with this dog to begin with," Rawls said.
The dog, a stray, had been in the pound several days and was marked to be killed the next day.
The dog suffered injuries to its head and was taken to Three Counties Animal Hospital in Riverdale. Its injuries were not life threatening, Turner said.
A woman answered the phone at Densley's home Monday night and said that Densley would call back with a comment but he did not return the call.
Turner said Densley "really didn't offer any explanation."
"He just said he was innocent," Turner said.
Densley had no past history of abusing the animals at the kennel, Turner said. Rawls said she knew Densley slightly but had no opinion of him.
The incident disturbed Animal Control commander Capt. Toni Tidwell as well.
"I was disappointed. Very hurt," said Tidwell.
When moving a dangerous animal, officers are supposed to use a catchpole, but for non-aggressive animals they usually use a leash, Tidwell said. The beaten dog was not considered to be aggressive.
"In fact he was giving me kisses today," Tidwell said.
Currently Animal Control employees are not given sensitivity training but Tidwell said it might be a good idea.
"It's always advantageous to have training like that," Tidwell said.
Turner said the department is "definitely going to take the appropriate steps and handle it accordingly."
In Clayton County, the Humane Society and Animal Control Department are two separate entities. Animal Control is a unit in the county police department and the Humane Society is a private organization.